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“Once Saved, Always Saved” Works Well… if You’re a Murderer

Orginally published on Monday, August 10, 2009 at 8:14 AM
by Todd Rhoades


George Sodini rests in heaven now because he professed a faith in Jesus years before his shooting rampage, according to a leader at his church. "George is going to heaven, but he's not going to get his rewards," said the leader. And Sodini won't be offered all of heaven's benefits because of his sin.

But wait, there's more...

Shortly after 8 p.m. Tuesday, Sodini walked into an LA Fitness Center and opened fire in an aerobics room filled with women. In addition to killing three, he wounded nine others before killing himself.

Sodini wrote in his online diary that the pastor at his church convinced him it was possible to commit mass murder and still be welcomed into heaven.

In his blog, Sodini alleged that the Rev. Alan “Rick” Knapp taught church members that committing such a crime could be forgiven.

“Holy [expletive], religion is a waste. But this guy teaches (and convinced me) you can commit mass murder then still go to heaven. Ask him,” Sodini wrote.

There is so much wrong here… where do you start?  Can a murderer go to heaven?  Sure.  (Hopefully David and Moses will make it).  Is it responsible to teach your church that committing mass murder is a forgiveable offense?  Ahh… I don’t think so.

And from the quotes above… I’m wondering how sincere the murderer was in his faith..  Doesn’t sound real stable to me.

What do you think?

Todd

You can read more here...


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  There are 57 Comments:

  • Posted by

    Mark Broadbent:

    All of those statements are true.  Now here are the questions to you: how does one change when he is saved by Christ?  How is his life supposed to look?  Specifically, what is that person’s relationship to sin.

    --
    CS

  • Posted by Brian L.

    I am not a Calvinist, although I am also not anti-Calvinist.  Some of my best friends in life and ministry believe in “once-saved-always-saved,” although that phrase does not accurately reflect the actual doctrine of “perseverance of the saints,” if I recall correctly.

    I have never heard any of my Calvinist friends describe the doctrine as a license to sin.

    I would think that the pastor in this case never said anything even intimating a belief in “once-saved-sin-all-you-want-including-murder-because-you’re-always-saved.”

    In the video of the pastor responding to all this, he specifically says he never advocated such a thing.

  • Posted by

    Brian L. said: “I have never heard any of my Calvinist friends describe the doctrine as a license to sin.”

    -----------Brian, I have never heard my pastor friends describe the doctrine as a license to sin either, at least in a direct way. But it is impossible to ignore the millions of people, over the years, who attend funerals and hear that the church going wife abuser [everyone knew, but no one confronted] is now in heaven.

    More than one drunk driver who has killed others in their wreck has been declared heaven bound.

    I recently attended a service where the young man was declared in heaven, even though he was in a drug and drunken state, when HIS FRIEND THE SHERIFF was forced to shot him [dead] for faking a gun pointed at him. Oh, that was after the once saved guy turned lose his kidnapped hostage.

    Hundreds heard that service, and certainly went away knowing that that the message did say in a subtle way, once saved is a license to sin. Why they heard the pastor declare the guy in heaven---after forcing his friend to kill him.

    Or we might remember the old church gossip who has tried to ruin more than one reputation in the church; particularly the preachers, and has on occasion accomplished her/his mission. But the good, old dear is declared in heaven, though carnage is strewn all over by her/his gossip and slander. 

    No, I know of no pastor who gives outright license to sin, but the inference is there. Thousands upon thousands of people hear pastors every week, at funerals, that a person who described themselves as a Christian, and never missed a Sunday, is in heaven now, but most everyone in attendance knows he/she lived like the devil. Then many of them will read a book like Stanley’s “Eternal Security.” Add up those funeral declarations, books, and other teachings, and no wonder there are millions who get the subtle message, “Once saved...a license to sin.

    Yep, my good, old baptist, deacon, friend whose son hasn’t been faithful to his wife after the first week of marriage, and smacks her around to keep here in line---would fight me to the death------"My son is saved because he was saved when he was 14.” Wonder how he came up with that?
    fishon

  • Posted by Peter Hamm

    fishon,

    It makes me wonder if indeed, there isn’t a kind of faith in Christ that doesn’t save anybody. james 2:14 “What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him?” and 2:24 “You see that a person is justified by what he does and not by faith alone.” terrifying in a way.

    Any discussion of “eternal security” that doesn’t touch on James’ sober teaching is incomplete.

  • Posted by

    Hi CS

    I believe that once a person encounters Jesus, and puts their faith in him, a number of things happen…

    1. They have their past, present and future sins paid for.

    2. They are granted eternal life

    3. They receive the Holy Spirit

    4. They will find the Holy Spirit will wrestle against their sinful nature in such a way that there are times when they hate sin and love God, and other times when they will crave sin and neglect God.

    5. Over time there will be outward signs that the Holy Spirit is working in their life.

    HOWEVER…

    I do not believe that once a person is a Christian, that they will never deliberately sin.

    Lets just be honest, every sin is deliberate. We sin because the sinful nature in us craves sin.

    And I think it is very possible for a person to be truly born again and yet go out a murder someone.  (King David committed murder, and he had the Spirit living in him).

    And to be honest, I am going to deliberately sin every day.

    I hate sin. But the sinful nature in me craves it. “I do what I don’t want to do”

    If a requirement for salvation is that I will never deliberately sin again, we are all going to hell.

    Mark

  • Posted by

    Peter,
    Excellent observation.
    fishon

  • Posted by

    Folks, if Mark Broadbent’s post is not a subtle license to sin, I don’t know what is.

    “And I think it is very possible for a person to be truly born again and yet go out a murder someone.  (King David committed murder, and he had the Spirit living in him).”
    -------hum, how many murders would it take before you decided he had never been saved?--------there is the loop hole for many of you.
    fishon

  • Posted by

    Hi Fishon

    Here is my problem…

    I hate sin. I really do. It destroys my life, it hurts God and it hurts those around me.

    I am assuming you also hate sin.

    The problem I have is that I just can’t seem to get rid of it. No matter how much I walk with God, no matter how long I pray, no matter how devoted I am to holiness, I find sin is still there with me.

    If you have found a way not to sin, then I would love to hear it. The good news for you would of course be that you wouldn’t need a saviour since Jesus really only came for sinners.

    And just as a side-note, I do believe that King David was saved. He had the Spirit of God living in him. As far as I can tell, Romans and Galatians both teach that anyone with the Spirit is saved, and anyone without the Spirit is not saved.

    Mark

  • Posted by

    Mark Broadbent:

    Thanks for your posts.  It’s been wonderful reading your train of thought and understanding of things.

    With regards to sin (and this is where I was going with my initial question), when a person has been saved and born-again by God, there is a complete change of nature with how we deal with sin.  We hate it.  We want nothing to do with it.  But, you’re right in that Christians still do sin.  After all, we will still live in the flesh until we go one day to be with the Lord.

    But here’s the challenge: the relationship we have with sin should be completely different.  Instead of wallowing in sin, planning it, looking for occasions to do it, we want to avoid it.  Unlike what this shooter did in obsessing about it and methodically carrying it out.

    It says in 1 John 3 that if we continue in lifestyles of sin, we are not children of God, but of the devil.  Romans 6 makes it clear that we should not deliberately sin so grace may abound more, but we should be dead to it.  We have a total admonishment in the Bible to not be intentional sinners.

    However, when we do sin, as it says in 1 John 9, we confess that to our Father and He will forgive us.  This is the kind of sin that we might, “trip,” on, such as seeing a woman jogging or accidentally getting more change than we should from the store.  Yet we still hate it and war against it.  The Bible says that this is repentance (metanoia) of our sin, and not just feeling bad because of the effects of the sin (metamelomai).

    I understand the conflict, Mark, that you are going through.  And because I’ve been there, I have to ask you this: have you truly repented of your sins in full?  Are there still sins that you desire to do and find occasion to act upon?  Do you understand the difference between being in a battle with sin and surrendering to it?

    --
    CS

  • Posted by

    Mark said: If you have found a way not to sin, then I would love to hear it.
    ----Ah Mark, now do you really think I have found a way not to sin?

    ----Mark, I am chief among men who need a Savior.

    ----Mark, read what I said again. I did not say that I thought King David was not saved.
    fishon

  • Posted by

    CS said: But hereís the challenge: the relationship we have with sin should be completely different.  Instead of wallowing in sin, planning it, looking for occasions to do it, we want to avoid it.  Unlike what this shooter did in obsessing about it and methodically carrying it out.
    ------Hum, kinda like Bakker, Swaggart, Haggard, wallowing in sin, planning it, looking for occasions to do it...Well, maybe I am wrong, but from my limited understanding, those guys obsessed about it and “methodically” carried it out.
    fishon

  • Posted by

    Hi CS

    I will have to bail out of the conversation at this point.

    But will just quickly say a few things…

    1. Yes I hate sin. And I have repented (changed my mind) about my sin. And I am seeking to produce fruit in keeping with repentance (as John the Baptist puts it).

    2. I am actually a pastor, church planter and evangelist and I speak at churches around my city. I am not a backsliding Christian.

    3. I am just very aware that some people in the church appeal to their faithfulness, while others appeal to God’s mercy. I am betting the farm on Jesus and the mercy he showed me by dying for me.

    4. I believe that I deliberately sin. As do you. As we all do. I believe that pretty much all sin is deliberate. So I am simply asking… IS SOMEONE KICKED OUT OF HEAVEN BECAUSE THEY DELIBERATELY SINNED? IF SO, THEN WE ARE ALL GOING TO HELL.

    5. I have received the Spirit. He is extremely active in my life (not in a pentecostal way, but in a fruits of the Spirit way). I have a very strong relationship with God. But I am still a sinner who has a sinful nature. And I still sin much.

    LAST THOUGHT....

    In the Lord’s Prayer Jesus says…
    1. “Give us today our daily bread”.
    To me this implies that Jesus wants us to pray this prayer daily.
    2. “Forgive us our sins”
    So here we have Jesus asking us to pray a prayer daily that says ‘Forgive us our sins’

    The logical implication of this is simply this…

    JESUS EXPECTS US TO SIN DAILY. He knows we’re gonna do it. So he builds it into the daily prayer that he wants us to pray.

    I for one am thankful that Jesus has paid for my past, present and future sins, and that he declared to the world ‘IT IS FINISHED’

    Mark

  • Posted by

    Iím late jumping into this discussion and wonít comment on what this pastor did or didnít say.  None of us were there for the whole conversation so any comment is out of context.

    What I canít stand is the way these kind of theological discussions leads human beings to a place where they judge whether or not someone gets (got) into heaven.  Arrrrgh.  Please stop me whenever I start talking like Iím God.

    Wendi

  • Posted by

    Mark Broadbent:

    Sorry that you want to bail on our discussion.  Here’s the penultimate question I would ask you, particularly in regards to this comment:

    “JESUS EXPECTS US TO SIN DAILY. He knows weíre gonna do it. So he builds it into the daily prayer that he wants us to pray. “

    If a person says a prayer, “accepts Jesus,” signs the card, or even says they repent of their sins and believe in Christ, and yet continues to sin daily, how does that look in light of Romans 6 and 1 John 3?

    --
    CS

  • Posted by

    Wendy,
    Then to stay on solid ground on your position about judging:: “...to where they judge whether or not someone gets (got) into heaven,”
    -----Do I need to take out of my message tomorrow that Brylee [5 months old] is now in heaven {Paradise}?

    -----And to stay consistent to your dislike of judging as to whether someone is in heaven or not, then I take it you really dislike the millions of funeral services where the pastor has declared someone in heaven? Or might it be, you just don’t like someone saying that so and so is not in heaven?

    Oh, by the way, if you think it is ok for me to declare Brylee in heaven, at what age would you advise me to stop saying that about children?
    fishon

  • Posted by Peter Hamm

    CS,

    Can’t have Romans 6 without Romans 7!

  • Posted by

    My main issue is that we get ourselves into far too many discussions about heaven, especially when it goes to whether or not someone who ďsaidĒ they were a Christian was really ďChristian enoughĒ to have gotten in.  Jesus mentioned heaven, discussed it very little and really didnít teach about it at all.  There are however, many things He gave lots of instruction about.  I feel we should major on the things Jesus majored on, and that wasnít (IMO) teaching about where one will go after they die.

    I had a seminary professor who caused a big ruckus when he posed this question to us (prefacing the question with the assurance that he IS NOT a universalist):  Suppose Jesus communicated to the world in some way today that His atoning work was going to allow everyone to be with Him in paradise, in other words, everyone gets in.  How does this new knowledge change the way you live your life and serve as a minister of the gospel?

    Great question I thought, and for me it changed very little (some, but not much).

    Wendi

  • Posted by

    Wendy:

    “Jesus mentioned heaven, discussed it very little and really didnít teach about it at all.”

    I hope that this was a joke.

    And I recall your seminary prof’s question and the discussion we had beforehand.  Again, if everyone got into Heaven, there would be no need to have our natures changed as a part of salvation and regeneration, which means that people would likely go to the lowest common denominator of sin.

    --
    CS

  • Posted by Peter Hamm

    CS, I think we know what Wendi was driving at.

    [sarcasm] After all, Jesus sure did mention and talk about Heaven a whole lot less than we evangelicals would like people to believe in our “merely transactional” religion we seem to have created, the kind of wrong-headed thinking that leads to situations like the one being discussed, where grace merely excuses our sin and doesn’t actually change us any… [/sarcasm]

  • Posted by

    CS Ė No, it wasnít a joke.  Peter does get what I am driving at.  Jesus talks about the kingdom of Heaven, which we too often assume refers to a place to go after we die.  But really reading Jesus in context (IMO) betrays that, at least as the primary meaning of the kingdom of heaven.  Jesus NEVER invited people to make a decision about following Him in order to secure our spot in heaven after we die (which is why I donít like the EE questions).  He invited people to follow Him and believed / hoped / prayed that we would do so in a Romans 12:1 sort of way; in view of Godís mercy, present our bodies as living sacrifices.  My problem with the ďis he going to heavenĒ discussion is that it forces us to look around at one another and determine whether the other person is doing enough of Ro 12:1 (or any other sacrificial living passage) to get in.

    My profs question wasnít about how human beings in general would act if there wasnít a need for redemption, it was to EACH OF US, who know and fully understanding our fallen state, our separation from God, Christís atoning work. With this knowledge, how would it change the way I live and minister if Jesusí work let everyone in?  Sure, I could say to myself, if I get to go to heaven no matter what I do and believe, why should I try to live in a way that points to God and gives Him glory.  Why should I think of others before myself?  Why should I bother seeking justice and mercy for the least, last and lost?  Why not just turn into a total narcissist, eat, drink and be merry? 

    But when I think of Godís mercy, I am still admonished by the creator of the universe to present my life a worship offering to Him.  So, although peopleís need to CHOOSE redemption would be gone, the benefit of CHOOSING TO live a redeemed life for as long as Iím on earth remains the same.  Getting into heaven with everyone else (or just the other Christians) doesnít then influence that choice.

    Does that make sense?

    BTW - I’ve been quiet on MMI, in Swaziland for the past month, and am more passionate about my above opinion than ever.

    Wendi

  • Posted by

    Forgive the silly little evangelical in Northern CA for a second here.  By big flipping deal if Jesus did or didn’t talk a lot about heaven.  We cannot classify scripture and weight it that way.  That will most certainly lead to bad doctrine.  Paul, John, Jesus… to name a few talked about heaven.  How many times do any of these guys have to mention it in order for it to be important?

    As for the point I think Wendi was making, There is a process to sanctification.  For some it takes longer for others it goes quicker.  Emotional maturity, age maturity, history, families of origin all influence how quickly one grows and how deeply one hungers for God after beginning a relationship with Christ.  To run around and measure whether someone is in or out is not really how I want to spend my time. 

    CS, fishon and whoever is a part of this discussion.  A question avoided on another post is.  Are you actively discipling people for the purpose of making disciples?  this might do more good than making people squirm with the law.  just sayin

  • Posted by Peter Hamm

    Leonard,

    There are some people I’m working with that way, but not the way I can or should, and not as systematically as I should. Work, even ministry work, perhaps especially ministry work, becomes quite the distraction… Have you been listening to too much Neil Cole by the way...? (just kidding)

    In all seriousness, thanks for bringing us back to that point. Keep doing it…

  • Posted by

    Wendi:

    (Regarding the prof’s question.) “But when I think of Godís mercy, I am still admonished by the creator of the universe to present my life a worship offering to Him.”

    That’s the catch.  Mercy would mean that there is a choice between leniency and enacting justice.  But if it’s universally applied, and no one would go to Hell, then that action could not be called, “merciful.” So it couldn’t be God’s mercy that would draw us, and in the process God becomes less than just.

    It’s kind of like if I never disciplined my kids and always gave them a cookie, even when they disobeyed.  If I never correct their actions and deprived them of a cookie, then my giving, even when they screw up and deliberately disobey, wouldn’t be merciful, it would show that I would be unjust.

    Leonard:

    “CS, fishon and whoever is a part of this discussion.  A question avoided on another post is.  Are you actively discipling people for the purpose of making disciples?  this might do more good than making people squirm with the law.  just sayin “

    I had replied back in that other thread with an example, so, yes.

    --
    CS

  • Posted by

    Sorry, I must have missed that, the only thing I saw was you meeting with a friend and talking about the problems with men’s ministry discipleship.  What was it you said you did to disciple other men?

  • Posted by

    Peter, I get how ministry can get in the way of ministry.  Happens to me all the time.  A few suggestions that I hope are recieved as encouragement.

    I disciple in 4 different ways
    #1 I disciple 1 on 1 This is 3-4 guys and ususally last 2-3 years and we meet 42-46 weeks a year.  Each meeting is really having coffee, talking about life and faith skills and teaching basic bible doctrine and history.  This is a great way to develop leaders. 

    #2 Small Group - 3-5 guys.  Usually around a specific topic, last for about a year and is intended to multiply.  Get them to do the same with others.  We usually meet about 45 times a year.

    #3 Challenge discipleship - This is the form of asking people to join me in a spiritual adventure.  Getting people to read their bible, pray daily, share Christ with another person… This is done with about 25 people a year and usually lasts a month at a time.

    #4 Skill or knowledge discipleship - This is training and developing peoples gifts and skills for ministry.  It is helping people gain knowledge of doctrine and theology, life skill… It is when I teach someone to study or to preach or to write small groups or to communicate and conflict resolve… I do this outside my church more than inside my church… it is almost like consulting/mentoring.  I usually meat with someone 3-6 times depending upon the need. 

    This is how I rhythm my life for discipleship.  It is how I do my best to make disciples.  My rules are simple

    If you are willing and want to learn and grow… I am willing and want to help.  If you are not willing… I am not either.  Actions show willingness. 

    I encourage others to start small, make sure you point to Jesus ALL the time, be focused on what you want to build…

    The person I seek to build has 5 great loves…

    Loves God
    Loves others
    Loves the Bible
    Loves the church
    Loves God’s plan in the world

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